Thursday, 3 June 2010

Snake alert

There's a derelict chicken shed that borders two fields, close to the house. I suspect it was perfectly placed to allow poultry to wander and peck first here and then there. The corrugated tin has seen better days and the uprights are completely rotted through at ground level, but some of the old elm boards are as iron.
I need somewhere to stick the part-time turkeys, and it was a really good excuse to refurbish another of the sorry huts on the farm. Whilst I write it on the to do list the farm worker rolls his eyes and then sets to with digger, saws and angle grinder.
I go and inspect progress and bring the dogs. Fenn immediately rushes in and sits alert. She knows something's there. Of course, it's full of rat runs, so I keep well back and ignore the possibility of furry critters emerging from the earth floor. But then we all see it at the same time and there is a shared squeak/roar/shout. At waist height, along one of the timbers, a snake slides into view and then slips down to the floor (how does it do that, precisely, and how did it get up there in the first place?) and across to a corner of the shed. It's seriously fat and about four feet long.
It's a grass snake, so not poisonous but as it flickers its tongue and hisses, we squeak/roar/shout again and fail to take a better photo, just in case it's an adder (which I'm sure it's not, but still...). It's all of three metres from our copious compost heap so at some point this month or next it'll lay 40 or so eggs there.
This happened at 5pm this afternoon and every since my scalp keeps wrinkling and my skin shivering - I'm so pleased we have snakes, but must it really live quite so close to the house?


mountainear said...

Part envy at having such a wonderful creature choose to live with you but part shared terror I think at its unexpected appearance - what a big 'un it is too. Why does the human race have such an irrational fear of snakes?

Robynn's Ravings said...

Good grief! I actually LIKE snakes and that one looks decidedly scary! Are you sure it's not an adder (she asks as if she has any idea what she's talking about)? It looks like a rattlesnake to me. We have them here in California and they FREAK me out. But we also have a gopher snake that looks similar but is not poisonous and is actually a wonderful pest controller.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

How wonderful! As with spiders etc. I can't understand people's ophiophobic reactions even to harmless grass snakes. Who knows what other creatures might be lurking on your vast estate?

Yorkshire Pudding said...

覓寒 = Grass snake

Mopsa said...

M'ear - not sure it's irrational - some of those buggers are deadly!

RR: we also called it a rattler, but I'm pretty sure it's a grass snake

YP - all kinds of things lurk out there - careful where you tread. And that was a very adult grass snake - now deleted.

Eurodog said...

Rather you than me!
Have been visiting regularly but have until today been unable to write comments. Something wrong with word verification.
Just to let you know I have not gone off the radar screen.

Flowerpot said...

I'm a real wimp when it comes to snakes. Oooher....

Anil P said...

Never easy having them share one's space. Reminds me of the 8 foot long Rat snake that used have the run of the neighbourhood. I had grown used to first knocking the door hard from the inside before opening it since it was seen resting against the door on the outside.

After we changed neighbourhood, my Mum saw the Cobra just in time before she walked up to the door to unlock it. It was camaflouged against the colour of the earth, and had its hood up.

I hope you're watching your step around the place.